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SCA Reaffirms 2018 Deferment Policy, Seeks Guidance for Three New Working Groups

The Specialty Coffee Association has announced the launch of two ad hoc committees, as well as an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Task Force, following feedback from its membership since its controversial Nov. 9 announcement of a “deferred candidacy” policy for coffee competitors at global events.

According to a public announcement signed by SCA Board of Directors President Paul Stack today, the group is forming a World Coffee Events Deferred Candidacy Policy Ad Hoc Committee, and an SCA/WCE Events Sponsorship and Site Selection Ad Hoc Committee, along with the special task force. The group is encouraging its members to join a Jan. 16 webinar to discuss the work and composition of the three volunteer working groups.

The letter also notably reaffirmed the SCA/WCE commitment to holding 2018 World Coffee Events competitions in the host cities of Dubai, UAE, and Belo Horizante, Brazil. From today’s announcement:

Finally, we have received some questions around the status of the 2018 world championship events and we want to be clear that planning for all events has resumed with the Deferred Candidacy policy in place, as announced in our November 9th statement.

That announcement, in which WCE competitors were offered a deferment to subsequent years’ competitions, was not received well by large factions of the global specialty coffee community. Much of the controversy has surrounded the selection of Dubai as a host city, despite the UAE’s recent and documented history of human rights violations, particularly those involving the LGBTQ+ community.

Some prominent coffee-related organizations — including Blue Bottle Coffee, the news site Sprudge and the Canadian chapter of the SCA — have publicly pulled out of relationships with the SCA and/or WCE events, while others have stated they intend to weigh the SCA’s response from the widespread backlash before determining future involvement.

While plans for the 2018 WCE competitions remain intact, Stack’s announcement also exhibited contrition on behalf of the SCA’s volunteer leadership:

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to once again apologize to members of our community who were unseen, unheard, and even felt discriminated against by the leaders of your association. Our conversations with all of you have shown that there are gaps in our processes related to selecting sites for international events and competitions.

Here is today’s announcement in full:

For the past few weeks, members of the SCA Board of Directors and staff have attended community-organized town halls to listen to you, our members, and answer questions on the objectives and the process that led to the creation of the Deferred Candidacy policy announced on November 9th. Additionally, we hosted two webinars, created a page with answers to frequently asked questions on the topic, and have continued to read and respond to comments and concerns submitted to us via email.

Get involved and join us on January 16th at 9:00am PST / 5:00pm GMT for a special webinar on the work and composition of the SCA’s two new ad hoc committees and task force. Register here. To provide input on the work of these groups, email us at getinvolved@sca.coffee.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to once again apologize to members of our community who were unseen, unheard, and even felt discriminated against by the leaders of your association. Our conversations with all of you have shown that there are gaps in our processes related to selecting sites for international events and competitions.

For this reason, we are establishing the following two ad hoc committees and one longer-term task force, and would like to invite you to join us for a special webinar on January 16th to meet the leadership and provide input on the work of these groups.

  • WCE Deferred Candidacy Policy Ad Hoc Committee
  • SCA/WCE Events Sponsorship & Site Selection Ad Hoc Committee
  • Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Task Force

The objectives of the ad hoc committees will be to address the specific needs through empowered representation and deliberation of stakeholder groups. Each ad hoc committee will be co-chaired by two members of the SCA Board of Directors and will include a wide cross-section of elected leadership from the SCA Guilds and Advisory Councils from different areas of the industry, different interest groups, and of different backgrounds and geographies.

Each committee will also have the support of two dedicated staff members, with one member of staff identified as the lead and main point of contact. The total number of committee members will be approximately 15 people. As with all ad hoc committees, these two groups will ultimately aim to achieve their goals and disband.

To ensure these committees are as inclusive and diverse as possible, the co-chairs and staff will seek representation of under-represented communities, a balance of gender identity, sexual identity/orientation, geography, and industry experience.

Additionally, a task force is being launched simultaneously to provide a framework for equity, diversity, and inclusion for the SCA. This group will publish a list of recommendations on organization-wide changes required at the association. The task force will weave concrete measures into the SCA’s 2017/2020 Strategic Plan to make all parts of our organization more equitable, diverse, and inclusive. This is a major first step towards institutionalizing the values of our membership and ensuring that the conversations we’ve had in the last few months leave an indelible mark on the future of the SCA.

In the following weeks, the SCA Board and executive staff will be finalizing the logistics of creating these new ad hoc committees and task force and appointing the board co-chairs and staff.

Join us on January 16th at 9:00am PST / 5:00pm GMT for a special webinar on the work and composition of these three groups. Register here to attend the webinar. As always, a recording will be made available on our website at http://www.scanews.coffee. We welcome input from our members on the work of these groups. Please email us at getinvolved@sca.coffee.

Finally, we have received some questions around the status of the 2018 world championship events and we want to be clear that planning for all events has resumed with the Deferred Candidacy policy in place, as announced in our November 9th statement.

We look forward to getting started on this very important work and want to thank you for staying involved as we build a new global association. We need the input of members like you to ensure that equity, diversity and inclusion are part of the permanent organizational fabric of the SCA. We on the SCA Board of Directors are grateful for the chance to continue serving the coffee community and wish you and yours a Happy Christmas, an enjoyable holiday season, and a productive 2018. See you in January.

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